US 7349953 B2
Presented is a system and method for determining a user's intent. Specifically, constituents and a topology are derived from the user's expression of intent, which can be stated broadly or stated in specific detail. The intent is expressed verbally, written, or in an XML format. The constituents and topology are resolved into a configuration based upon contexts. The contexts, which include a resource context, a user context, and an application context, includes information about the user's preferences, location, restrictions, device and network availability, and content availability. The configuration is then implemented.
1. A method for determining a user's intent to be implemented in a computer environment comprising:
receiving an input from the user containing the user's intent to play content on a device, wherein the input comprises a message containing one or more elements comprising at least one or both of a device element indicating the device and a content element indicating the content;
determining if the received input is a high-level message that conveys one of the one or more elements or a detailed message that explicitly lists both the device and content elements;
if the input is a high-level message, then resolving the high-level message into the device element and the content element;
resolving at least the device and content elements into two or more constituents and a topology, the topology associates the two or more constituents with each other, wherein the two or more constituents represent at least the device and content to be associated with the device;
resolving the constituent and topology into a configuration by determining at least one provider and at least one parameter the provider needs to play the content on the device; and
implementing the configuration based on the user's intent conveyed in the input.
2. The method of
3. The method of
receiving an object element comprising at least two node elements;
receiving the at least two node elements; and
receiving a connection element having source and destination attributes associated with nodes that are connected by the connection element, the node elements and the connection element specifying a topology for the object element.
4. The method of
receiving an interface element that provides a client control of the object; and
receiving one or more format elements that comprise attributes identifying types of formats the connection element or the node elements support.
5. The method of
6. The method of
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. A computer-readable storage medium having computer executable instructions for performing the steps comprising:
receiving a message having a userts intent;
determining if the received message is a high-level message comprising one or more elements or a detailed message interrelating a plurality of elements;
if the input is a high-level message, then resolving the high-level message into at least two constituents that implement the user's intent; and
resolving the user's intent into a configuration comprising a plurality of constituents and a topology, wherein the configuration associates the plurality of constituents which represent one or more devices and content referred to in the user's intent with each other through the topology by determining providers and parameters required by the providers to realize the user's intent; and
implementing a configuration in accordance with the user's intent as derived from the message.
10. The computer-readable storage medium of
11. A computer-readable storage medium containing a data structure describing a user intent for rendering content, the data structure comprising:
an object element representing an object;
two or more node elements associated with the object, the node elements representing a plurality of constituents of the user intent wherein the constituents represent at least a device and content inferred from a user intent by determining if the user intent is a high-level message comprising one or more constituents or a detailed message specifying a plurality of constituents and one or more connections there between; and
one or more connection elements representing the one or more connections between the plurality of constituents of the user intent, the node elements and connection elements form a topology resolved and implemented from the user intent.
12. The computer-readable storage medium of
13. The computer-readable storage medium of
14. The computer-readable storage medium of
15. The computer-readable storage medium of
16. The computer-readable storage medium of
17. The computer-readable storage medium of
18. The computer-readable storage medium of
This application is a continuation of U.S. Patent Application No. 09/794,799 entitled “INTENT BASED PROCESSING,” filed on Feb. 27, 2001, which application is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
This invention relates generally to electronic data processing and, more particularly, relates to a system and method for selecting and configuring network components based on user intent.
The processing capability of computer components is continually increasing. The industry has responded by creating applications and operating systems that take full advantage of these performance enhancements. However, as additional functionality was added, these applications generally became more complex, requiring the user to become increasingly knowledgeable about the applications and operating systems to be able to take full advantage of the enhancements.
In response to user aggravation, industry created simpler interfaces that are easier to use so that the average user did not have to be as knowledgeable about the application and the operating system. For example, commonly assigned patent application Ser. No. 09/650481, “System and Method for Identifying Audio/Visual Programs to be Recorded,” filed Aug. 29, 2000, provides for a token schema that provides sufficient program criteria to enable a recording system that receives the token to record the identified program based on the token. The token provides the user with the capability to record a program without having to know the broadcast time for the program or the broadcast channel.
However, while these simpler interfaces significantly enhance the user's experience, the user must still know what program to use and, in many cases, how the program works in order to use the program. A method is needed whereby a program or operating system component can select and configure network components based on user intent.
The present invention relates to a method for determining a user's intent based on the user's input. The input can be received in a variety of different ways, including verbally. For example, the input can be a simple message, a high level topology request with few, if any, constraints, or a detailed topology request with constraints. Constituents and a topology are derived from the user's intent. The constituents and topology are resolved into a configuration based upon contexts. The contexts provide information about resource availability, preferences, and user authority limitations. The configuration is then realized (i.e., implemented).
Another aspect of the present invention provides an XML schema for facilitating user intent. The XML schema includes an object element that specifies an object to be created, a node element that identifies a node in the desired topology, a connection element to specify connections between nodes, an interface element to specify an interface that clients use to control the object, and a format element that specifies a format for a connection or node.
Additional features and advantages of the invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments which proceeds with reference to the accompanying figures.
While the appended claims set forth the features of the present invention with particularity, the invention, together with its objects and advantages, may be best understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:
Turning to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements, the invention is illustrated as being implemented in a suitable computing environment. Although not required, the invention will be described in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a personal computer. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, etc. that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Moreover, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be practiced with other computer system configurations, including hand-held devices, multi-processor systems, microprocessor based or programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, broad-cast enabled computers, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. The invention may also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.
The invention is operational with numerous other general purpose or special purpose computing system environments or configurations. Examples of well known computing systems, environments, and/or configurations that may be suitable for use with the invention include, but are not limited to, personal computers, server computers, hand-held or laptop devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based systems, set top boxes, programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, distributed computing environments that include any of the above systems or devices, and the like.
The invention may be described in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a computer. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, etc. that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. The invention may also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote computer storage media including memory storage devices.
With reference to
Computer 110 typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 110 and includes both volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. By way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media includes both volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can be accessed by computer 110. Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media. Combinations of the any of the above should also be included within the scope of computer readable media.
The system memory 130 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 131 and random access memory (RAM) 132. A basic input/output system 133 (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements within computer 110, such as during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 131. RAM 132 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit 120. By way of example, and not limitation,
The computer 110 may also include other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only,
The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and illustrated in
The computer 110 may operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 180. The remote computer 180 may be another personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described above relative to the personal computer 110, although only a memory storage device 181 has been illustrated in
When used in a LAN networking environment, the personal computer 110 is connected to the LAN 171 through a network interface or adapter 170. When used in a WAN networking environment, the computer 110 typically includes a modem 172 or other means for establishing communications over the WAN 173, such as the Internet. The modem 172, which may be internal or external, may be connected to the system bus 121 via the user input interface 160, or other appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the personal computer 110, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device. By way of example, and not limitation,
In the description that follows, the invention will be described with reference to acts and symbolic representations of operations that are performed by one or more computer, unless indicated otherwise. As such, it will be understood that such acts and operations, which are at times referred to as being computer-executed, include the manipulation by the processing unit of the computer of electrical signals representing data in a structured form. This manipulation transforms the data or maintains it at locations in the memory system of the computer, which reconfigures or otherwise alters the operation of the computer in a manner well understood by those skilled in the art. The data structures where data is maintained are physical locations of the memory that have particular properties defined by the format of the data. However, while the invention is being described in the foregoing context, it is not meant to be limiting as those of skill in the art will appreciate that various of the acts and operation described hereinafter may also be implemented in hardware.
Turning now to
The process begins with program module 136 receiving the user's intent (step 200). The user's intent is received through the user interface 160 or the network interface 170 and can be submitted verbally or through peripherals like mouse 161, keyboard 162, and modem 172. The user intent can be a simple message like “Play Mozart”, a high level topology request with few, if any, constraints, (e.g., “Play Creed in the kitchen”) or a detailed topology request with constraints (e.g., “Play ‘The Matrix’ in the den with the audio going to the surround sound speakers with the volume set at mid-level and the video going to the high definition television at the default streaming rate.”).
Program module 136 then determines the constituents and the topology that are in the user intent (step 202 ). The constituents are the devices and content that is referred to in the intent. The topology is how the constituents are related to each other. For example, the constituents of the user intent expressed as “Play ‘The Godfather’ on television” are “The Godfather” and the television and the topology is the fact that the user wants to play “The Godfather” on television.
The contexts are checked (step 204) for limitations to see if the user's intent can be resolved (step 206).
The resource context 302 comprises all the devices and networks and content that are available and how they are available. For example, in a home setting, the resource context 302 would include the computers in the home, the type of network in the home, what is on the computers (e.g., applications and operating systems), networked components (e.g., printers, video recorders, televisions, etc.), where the components are located, whether there is Internet access, and the services available on the Internet.
The user context 304 comprises what is known about the user. For example, the user context 304 includes the user's location, the user's security permissions, the preferences in terms of the services that are used, how to pay for items, and other personal preferences such as how loud music is played. In one embodiment, the user context 304 includes a superset 308. The superset 308 contains information about things the user is part of that is not specific to that user. This information can be information about family, domain, organization, etc. This allows information common to a family (e.g., no M-TV, no R-rated movies before 9 p.m.) to be in one place. Similarly, information common to a domain or an organization can be put in one location.
The application context 306 comprises information about applications that are present. The information includes what type of application an application is, how the application processes inputs, how the application outputs data, etc.
Turning back to
If the user's intent can be resolved, a configuration is determined based upon the contexts (step 210) and the configuration is implemented (step 212). A configuration has the characteristics that the providers (e.g., devices, components) for everything are known and the parameters that the providers need to implement the user's intent are known. Using the same example, the user context 304 indicates the user has permission to watch the movie and the resource context 302 indicates that a television is available for use. The configuration is the television and the movie being played on the television and the configuration is implemented by playing the movie on the television. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the intent could result in different configurations based upon the contexts. For example, in a first instance, the television in the den is available and the big-screen television in the basement is unavailable and at another instance, the television in the den is unavailable and the big-screen television is available. In the first instance, the configuration is that the movie is to be played on the television in the den. In the other instance, the configuration is that the movie is to be played on the big-screen television in the basement.
In one embodiment, the users specify their intent through an XML schema. The XML schema allows the users to specify as much detail of what is wanted as the users desire. This can range from a high level topology with few constraints to a detailed description of the topology with detailed descriptions of each component and connection in the topology. The basic elements of the XML schema include an object element, a node element, a connection element, an interface element, and a format element.
The object element specifies an object to be created. The node element identifies a node in the topology and the connection element specifies connections between nodes. The interface element specifies an interface that clients use to control the object and the format element specifies a format for a connection or node. Those skilled in the art will recognize that other elements can be added and that not all elements are needed for certain implementations. For example, there is no connection element if the topology is playing a song that is already loaded on a device on that device.
The object element includes an autoplay attribute. The autoplay attribute indicates whether the object should be started by the component that created the object and provides the user with the ability to specify the object with the object operating until an end command is received.
The node element includes an identifier attribute that identifies the node in the context of the request. This feature allows the node to be referenced by other elements. Child elements, which describe the element in question, describe the user's constraints and goals for the node and indicate what interfaces the user may want to access to control the node.
The connection element includes source and destination attributes that identify the nodes that are to be connected. Additional attributes are a source terminal attribute and a destination terminal attribute. The source terminal attribute and destination terminal attribute are used in situations where a node has multiple connection points (e.g., terminals or pins) and a connection point cannot be identified by the direction of data flow. Child elements are used to specify user constraints and goals including format, quality of service, and routing.
The interface element in the intent schema allows the user to indicate that the interface that is named via the name attribute may be requested in relation to the node to which the interface element is attached. For example, if a user intends to play audio content through a stereo amplifier, she might want to control the volume of the amplifier. An interface element (e.g. <interface>IAudioVolume</interface>) indicates to the program module 136 that the volume interface may be requested and that appropriate resources should be reserved. The interface element results in the advantages that the program module 136 is able to obtain an interface promptly and that the resources required to obtain the interface are reserved.
The format element includes attributes that identify the types of formats the connection or node supports and are used to call out a specific format handler. A format handler is a module that configures a provider to implement a specified format. In the context of a connection, the format of the connection is restricted to the formats specified in the format element. In the context of a node terminal, the formats supported by the node terminal are restricted to the formats specified in the format element.
An example of the XML schema to express user intent is below. The user intent is to play audio/video streams from a UPnP camera on a laptop and an IEEE 1394 compatible television. The XML schema is:
The resources are described in XML and allow users to specify their intent in more detail or do nothing and use the defaults. In one embodiment, the UPnP camera is expressed as follows.
A method of determining a user's intent has been described that provides users with the flexibility to express their intent as broadly or as detailed as desired. The flexibility allows the user to utilize programs without having to know which program to use, which programs and other resources are available, and how the programs work. All of the references cited herein, including patent applications are hereby incorporated in their entireties by reference. In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles of this invention may be applied, it should be recognized that the embodiment described herein with respect to the drawing figures is meant to be illustrative only and should not be taken as limiting the scope of invention. For example, those of skill in the art will recognize that the elements of the illustrated embodiment shown in software may be implemented in hardware and vice versa or that the illustrated embodiment can be modified in arrangement and detail without departing from the spirit of the invention. Therefore, the invention as described herein contemplates all such embodiments as may come within the scope of the following claims and equivalents thereof.